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100,000 expected at Fall Hunting Classic

Annual event sponsored by Bass Pro Shops


Pro Hunting team member Bob Foulkrod speaks during Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World. The event offers opportunities to learn tips and techniques for a more successful day in the field.

The Blade/Andy Morrison
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An estimated 100,000 people are expected to pump dollars into the Rossford area economy during Bass Pro Shops' annual fall hunting classic in the coming weeks.

Besides spending oodles of time at the shop, people will dole out dollars at hotels, gas stations, restaurants, and other businesses.

The 17-day Fall Hunting Classic, an annual tradition at Bass Pro Shops, is being held now through Aug. 21 at the Bass Pro Shops, 10000 Bass Pro Blvd., Rossford. There is no charge to attend.

With tens of thousands of people coming to the Rossford area, the economic impact is going to be significant, said Rob Buchanan, general manager of the Bass Pro Shops, Rossford, and a member of the Rossford Business Association.

In a blitz about the event to members of the Rossford Business Association, he asked, "Are you ready?"

The Fall Hunting Classic triggers a ripple effect as other area retailers, gas stations, hotels, and restaurants benefit as well from the increased customer traffic, according to Bass Pro Shops officials.

"We're really excited about this with Bass Pro," said Rossford Councilman Michael Scott, chairman of the Rossford Convention and Visitors Bureau. "There is no way to gauge at this point the economic impact on the community, but we do know it will have a positive effect."

Hotels, restaurants, and other businesses, particularly in the Crossroads area, will be affected by the Bass Pro Shops event, he said. "We will see an overall impact to all of those businesses out there for that," he said.

Bass Pro has a representative on the convention and visitors bureau. "Bass Pro has been a great partner. Bass Pro is a real asset," Mr. Scott said.

Patrick McGrady, president of the Rossford Business Association, said that from his viewpoint, the impact will depend on what exits people use en route to Bass Pro, and will depend too on whether they know what is in the surrounding areas to visit. But he did say there will be a trickle-down effect. "I think there is a benefit for the surrounding businesses," said Mr. McGrady, owner of Cold Stone Creamery-Blimpie Sub Shop on State Rt. 20.

However, he said there isn't as much development near his businesses as was anticipated with the introduction of Bass Pro to the area. "I look out my back door and see wheat and bean fields," he said, and if people drive down the Crossroads area, they see open fields, not retail development. "The economic times hasn't helped out to develop the area. There's a lot of acres to develop," he said, but there is some retail growth along State Rt. 20 that could spur development near his business which is about a quarter mile from Bass Pro.

As an entrepreneur and president of the Rossford Business Association, Mr. McGrady tries to stimulate business to his store and to other local businesses. He said, like Bass Pro, his business is a "destination stop."

"A consumer comes to shop in the Crossroads area. My business is an off-shoot," he said. For example, a customer comes to the area to shop and buy lumber, and then stops by his business to get ice cream as a reward after getting the shopping done.

As president of the association, his focus is to bring together community leaders or individuals with business expertise who meet with association members to talk about how to attract development to the area and how to attract consumers, he said.

With the addition of a casino in the mix, this could become a destination area where people would come to visit the casino, go to a water park, spend time at the Toledo Zoo, get ice cream or a sandwich at Mr. McGrady's business, and then overnight at a local hotel.

Rossford's new convention and visitors bureau, funded through a hotel bed tax, will help promote Rossford as a destination location, with dollars dedicated to tourism, such as to attract bus tours, he said.

Wendy Stram, who is executive director of the Bowling Green Convention & Visitors Bureau, has been under contract for three months as the executive director of the Rossford Convention and Visitors Bureau, Councilman Scott said.

The goal is to spark interest in Rossford, particularly in the Crossroads area, Mr. Scott said.

That area has been affected by the economic downturn, but "there are a couple things in our favor," Mr. Scott said, notably that all the infrastructure is in place, including roads and utilities. Too, the area is anchored by Bass Pro and the development along State Rt. 20, and traffic patterns along highways leading to the area are favorable as well, the councilman said.

Getting that message to customers, developers, and others is key.

"We're just trying to put somewhat of a concerted effort to get businesses in town," Mr. Scott said, and there is an effort to get retailers' attention so they see the potential of the market.

Too, the convention and visitors bureau will be working to spread the word about all that Rossford has to offer, including the existing businesses and other attractions.

Bass Pro Shops draws people from out of the area and out of state who stay at hotels in the Rossford area, Mr. Buchanan said.

During the Bass Pro Shops Fall Classic, outdoor enthusiasts will be able to learn techniques and strategies used by professionals to gain a better advantage in the field; can see the latest products, and attend workshops and seminars.

In Rossford's Bass Pro Shop this week, Friday to Sunday is Hunter Appreciation Weekend, highlighted by opportunities to learn tips and techniques for a more successful day in the field. Several seminars will be held, and people can "Take the Pledge" to pass along the passion, tradition, and heritage by taking someone hunting.

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